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Analyzing Primary Sources

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Analyzing Primary Sources

  1. 1. Analyzing Sources Primary Sources
  2. 2. Primary Sources <ul><li>Primary sources are actual records that have survived from the past. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Published documents include books, magazines, newspapers, government documents, non-government reports, literature of all kinds, advertisements, maps, pamphlets, posters, laws, and court decisions. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Unpublished documents include personal letters, diaries, journals, wills, deeds, family Bibles containing family histories, school report cards. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Visual documents include photographs, films, paintings, and other types of artwork. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Oral traditions & oral histories provide another way to learn about the past from people with firsthand knowledge of historical events. </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. Secondary Sources <ul><li>Secondary sources are accounts of the past created by people writing about events sometime after they happened. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Rules to Analyzing Sources <ul><li>Time & Place Rule </li></ul><ul><li>Judges the quality of the source </li></ul><ul><li>The closer in time and place a source and its creator were to an event in the past, the better the source will be. </li></ul><ul><li>Better primary sources might include: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Accounts created at the time it occurred , by firsthand observers and participants; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Accounts created after the event occurred, by firsthand observers and participants; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Accounts created after the event occurred, by people who did not participate or witness the event , but who used interviews or evidence from the time of the event. </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Rules to Analyzing Sources <ul><li>Bias Rule </li></ul><ul><li>Every source is biased in some way. As a result, historians follow these bias rule guidelines: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Read source critically with skepticism </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Consider the creator’s point of view. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cross-check and compare source with related sources and pieces of evidence. </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Sourcing <ul><li>Before reading the document ask yourself: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Who wrote/created this? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What is the author’s point of view? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Why was it written? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>When was it written? (A long time or short time after the event?) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Is this source believable? Why? Why not? </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Contextualizing <ul><li>Imagining the Setting: </li></ul><ul><li>What else was going on at the time the source was written/created? </li></ul><ul><li>What was it like to be alive at this time? </li></ul><ul><li>What things were different back then? What things were the same? </li></ul><ul><li>What would it look like to see this event through the eyes of someone who lived back then? </li></ul>
  8. 8. Corroboration <ul><li>Cross-checking documents: </li></ul><ul><li>What do other pieces of evidence say? </li></ul><ul><li>Am I finding the same information everywhere? </li></ul><ul><li>Am I finding different versions of the story? (If yes, why might that be?) </li></ul><ul><li>Where else could I look to find out about this? </li></ul><ul><li>What pieces of evidence are most believable? </li></ul>
  9. 9. Close Reading <ul><li>Ask yourself: </li></ul><ul><li>What claims does the author make? </li></ul><ul><li>What evidence does the author use to support those claims? </li></ul><ul><li>How is this document supposed to make me feel? </li></ul><ul><li>What words or phrases does the author use to convince me that he/she is right? </li></ul><ul><li>What information does the author leave out? </li></ul>
  10. 10. Journal Extract ~ John Hunter

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